I'm one of those longtime readers here who's never posted a question or comment. But I was reminded recently that the stories we share and the advice they solicit help more than just ourselves so I'm writing today about a topic I haven't seen discussed. It's an important one for every parent of a young man: testicular cancer.
I'll keep the background brief and get to the question. My son is a 2020 RHP. He made varsity as a sophomore and had a great year, emerging as their closer and taking second-team all conference honors. He headed into the summer with confidence and momentum. He wasn't a quite a legit college prospect, but he had the drive and the size to believe he might get there. Then, kaboom. In June last year, right after school ended, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Now before I go on, I need to say that testis cancer is very treatable and very curable. It was crushing news to us, of course, but we learned pretty quickly to be grateful it wasn't worse. Son had two surgeries, the second of which in August was really big and difficult. But, it worked. The cancer has been knocked, the chance of recurrence is now very low and we avoided chemo or radiation treatments that can have longer term side effects.
Today, he's fully cleared for all activity and in the last month he's finally feeling back to normal enough to really workout. Fortunately, he's in an excellent pitching program that is bringing him back slowly and he's got the support of coaches who are willing to let his junior high school season be a kind of rehab assignment. He probably won't be ready to pitch until April, which has nothing to do with surgical recovery but is instead about the fact that he hasn't pitched since last summer. He's throwing well and feeling good and will probably get some playing time in the outfield until his arm is ready for the mound.
One of the challenges in this (and there are many) is that we won't really know how much this episode set him back until he's fully ramped up and pitching at 100 percent. So, it'll be April before we know where he stands with form and velocity. He lost a lot of weight and although his legs retained their muscle definition, he's nowhere near as hefty. Last year he was 6'3" and about 185lbs. Today, he's 6'4" and 160.
Sorry for the long post. I really was trying to be brief. But with all of that background here's my question for the group: Assuming he gets back to form and can start thinking about college baseball, how do you treat his cancer history in conversations with college coaches? Lean into it as story of character and perseverance? Acknowledge it, but don't dwell?
Thanks in advance.
Oh, last thing: My public service announcement. Testicular cancer is easy to dismiss as soreness from an injury but like all cancer early detection is vital. Boys can be embarrassed to say anything to you or even to examine themselves. I encourage you to bring it up to them. Once we started talking about our son, we discovered lots of people in our circle had sons and brothers who had it. It's all around.